Arkansas State Bounces Back to Stop Bears' Win Streak, 7-5
March 13, 2013
JONESBORO, Ark. - Arkansas State's Ryan Emery snapped a 5-5 tie with a two-out, two-run double in the bottom of the seventh inning to propel the Red Wolves past Missouri State, 7-5, Wednesday afternoon at Tomlinson Stadium. Logan Uxa went 2-for-4 and scored the tying and go-ahead runs to help ASU (11-6) salvage a split in the two-game series and stop the Bears' four-game win streak.
Emery finished the day 2-for-3 with a run scored, but it was his two-base hit to left-center field on a 3-2 pitch from MSU reliever Zach Merciez that mattered most. The decisive blow drove in a pair of runs--the Red Wolves' sixth and seventh two-out runs of the game--and completed a comeback that saw ASU rally from deficits of 4-0 and 5-4.
Both defenses played pivotal roles early in the contest, as each of the first eight tallies in the game were scored as unearned runs. ASU was forced to battle its way back after falling 4-0 in the opening frame, as a Claude Johnson error opened the door to a big first inning for the Bears.
After plating four runs in the 11th inning to claim Tuesday's series opener, the Bears (11-4) picked up right where they left off, jumping on Red Wolves' starter Cody Woodhouse to grab an early lead in game two. Conor Smith's fielder's choice grounder to short drove in Tate Matheny--who reached via a fielding error to start the game--with the game's first tally, and Koby Peebles singled to kick off a string of three consecutive MSU hits. Next, Spencer Johnson delivered his second run scoring double of the series, chasing home both Smith and Peebles for a 3-0 lead. Travis McComack followed with a two-bagger of his own into the gap in left-center to bring in Johnson for a four-run Bears' cushion.
Bears' starter Matt Hall had little trouble with the first four batters of the game, setting the Red Wolves down in order in the opening frame and striking out Uxa for the first out of the second before running into trouble. Hall issued the first of three second-inning walks to Alex Potts with one out to give ASU its first baserunner of the game. After coaxing a grounder to short from Ryan Roberts for the second out, Hall handed out another base-on-balls to Emery, then mishandled a bunt by Kaleb Brown to keep the inning alive. Dustin Jones made the Bears pay, lacing a line drive down the right-field line to drive in two runs, and an Eric Cheray throwing error on a Ryan Fitzpatrick one-hopper allowed a third run to come around. Hall continued to struggle with his command, beaning Collin Massaneli to load the bases and walking Johnson to force home the tying run.
Hall settled into a groove and held the Red Wolves in check long enough for the Bears to regain the lead in the fourth. Dylan Becker got the ball rolling with a one-out single, and Cheray came through with run-scoring double off the wall in right to make it a 5-4 contest.
The lead would be short lived, however, as ASU responded with a run in the bottom of the fifth to even the score once again. Uxa drove a triple over the head of Matheny in center with one out, and Roberts doubled him home with two outs to even the score at 5-5.
Merciez worked around a two-out error in the sixth to keep it even, but Uxa would get the ASU offense going again the following inning with a one-out base hit. Potts moved the runner into scoring position with a single of his own, before Emery delivered the key hit of the game to put the Red Wolves on top for the first time in the series.
ASU relievers Brandon Milhouse (1-0) and Adam Grantham combined to shut the door from that point. Milhouse earned the win after allowing just two hits over three scoreless innings, and Grantham picked up the save by working the final two innings, striking out four and permitting just one hit.
Every MSU starter registered at least one hit on the day, as Johnson led the Bears' 10-hit attack with a 2-for-4 day at the plate.
Merciez (0-1) suffered the loss after allowing two runs on five hits while striking out three over his 3 2/3 innings of work. Just one of Hall's five runs allowed in his 4 1/3 innings went as earned, and the left-hander struck out five while walking three in his first start as a Bear.
Missouri State returns to Hammons Field to open a three-game series with Western Illinois Friday (March 15) at 3 p.m..